Revamp!

It has been long overdue and I feel a bit sheepish that it took me this long but I have finally gotten around to publishing all my short stories (so far) on Amazon. If all goes according to plan, I’ll even be adding a sixth to my repertoire – Slave for Argannon.

Thanks to my dedicated designer, Ida van Os, I have newly revamped covers for all my short stories! If you still need to get your hands on one or more of my stories (or you just like the new covers), just click on the images below. They will take you directly to their corresponding pages on Amazon so you can buy them.

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The Mystic – Kindle edition

 

01_Beyond_A Scroll of the Scion of the Myhrr

Beyond – Kindle edition

02_More than a fish

More Than a Fish – Kindle edition

05_Captive_A Scroll from The Days of the Diaspora

Captive – Kindle edition

04_The gravic exacerbation

The Gravic Exacerbation – Kindle edition

Whether you liked it or hated it, please leave reviews!

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JOE Indie Pop-up Book Fair

The good people from Just One Earth are hosting an indie book fair at Alkantrant Library in Pretoria this Saturday – 14 July 2018! If you are in Gauteng, come have a look at what the local authors have on offer. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Alkantrant Library.

If you’ve missed out on your copy of The Flight of the Phoenix or Phoenix Fire, this will be your opportunity to get your hands on them AND have them signed by me and Ryhen E Knight. I have it on good authority that Linzé Brandon will also be there, which means you may also be able to get one of the last few copies of STORM!

Because of my awesome cover designer who is full of handy suggestions, I will also have QR codes at the fair that will link you directly my separate short stories on Amazon! So, if you prefer eBooks, come along anyway and get your hands on electronic copies of all my books too!

Date: Saturday, 14 July 2018
Time: 10:00-14:00
Place: Alkantrant Library – Cnr Daventry and Lynburn Streets, Pretoria, South Africa

Writer’s block

writer's block

It’s kind of funny. I never thought of published writers as being capable of suffering from something as mundane as writer’s block. Obviously, they’ve pumped out gazillions of words and keep doing so. They can’t possibly have those moments where they sit in front of their computer and nothing happens!

The truth is: It’s something all authors deal with. Those who publish many books during their career are just better at it than those who don’t. If you look online for solutions to writer’s block, you’ll find all kinds of advice, some useless, some interesting and, at times, some of it thoroughly distressing.

The tough love versions usually claim that you can’t afford writer’s block if you plan to make money with writing. Though I do subscribe to something along that line, I think it is a bit unforgiving…especially considering that writers form part of the artist community – a bunch of emotional weirdos who need to feel all the feelings.

The other end of the scale offers all kinds of soothing solutions. I often find them wishy washy and that they really just lead to distractions, that lead to more distractions, that lead to more distractions… You get the idea.

What I have to offer falls somewhere in the middle. To my mind, they are more practical and offer real solutions. In fact, I no longer feel like writer’s block is too much of an obstacle.

Solutions to writer’s block

  • Planning/developing your plot
    Planning/developing plot is a writing activity that is constructive and it often leads to the very solution you needed to get through the writing that caused the block in the first case. Look at where the story is going; what the characters and antagonists are doing; what the characters and antagonists want out of life/this adventure/this moment; what has happened and what it implies for the resolution of the story. You may discover that your main character actually wouldn’t be doing what they are doing or that the timeline is out of sync.
  • Writing on a different part/scene/chapter of your story
    I sometimes find that I don’t know how to move a scene forward or just don’t know how to get to a satisfying resolution. That is when I look around in my story for another scene or chapter that I already have ideas for. Maybe I use what I’m writing now, maybe I don’t. What I do often end up with is a piece of dialogue I really enjoy or I realise that there is foreshadowing that I’d like to edit into the beginning.
  • Write on a different story
    Some people call this chasing plot bunnies. I sometimes write on a different story just to get my brain juices flowing again. Having to deal with a different set of characters refreshes my creativity and I often find that it helps me get over the block.
  • Write through it
    Type whatever comes to mind. It’s going to feel terrible. What you are writing may be terrible. Writing through the writer’s block is not about pretty prose or creating a charming turn of phrase, it’s about discipline and maintaining momentum. It can be equated to breastfeeding through mastitis. You won’t want to do it. It will be unpleasant and downright painful. You may want to give up all the way through. But, if you stick with it, you will get to the other side and you will be stronger. In fact, I think this is the solution the tough love writers are actually suggesting.

Things that may feel like solutions but aren’t

  • Go make coffee.
    Unless you are thirsty or need caffeine, this will just send you to the bathroom more often.
  • Tidy your house/office/room/desk.
    It has been proven that tidying up makes it easier to think because of the symbolic cleansing of your mind. But this is time consuming and won’t get writing done.
  • Take a walk or exercise.
    Stick to a standard exercise schedule. Shoving it in because of writer’s block will just provide you with more distractions.
  • Take a bath.
    Hopefully you are a water-wise individual and you know that bathing more than once a day (especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle) is wasteful.
  • Watch a movie.

These false solutions are like drugs. When you start out, they feel good and you want a hit only now and then but, soon, you end up doing it all the time. You start coming up with lists of excuses for not writing. You stop writing for weeks on end.

This post is based on my experience. I have tried all of these solutions, good and bad, and I hope that you benefit from what you read here.

Good luck!

Feel free to leave a comment!

Developing a story concept

Story concept development, Natalie? Isn’t that the first thing you have done before you start writing? Everybody has a story concept! The trouble is just that, really. Whether they have developed their story concept sufficiently is an entirely different story. *cough cough, ahem*

I recently had to develop a story concept and it reminded me again how much work goes into it. Whether you develop it before you start writing (planning) or during (pantsing), development will have to happen.

So, what do I mean by developing a story concept?

Let’s say, you want to write a story about a guy, let’s call the guy Hanus, who discovers the truth behind why his older brother always been so hard on him.

Well, that’s really boring why would you want to write about that?

Story concept development one: He’s the heir to the throne of Snahuek.

Wait! I thought you said he’s a younger brother. General succession rules say the throne goes to the firstborn.

Story concept development two: He’s not a younger brother at all, the “older brother” is really his tutor who was preparing him to rule.

Okay…that does explain the succession issue. But how on earth did everybody hide his identity from him?

Story concept development three: The king and queen of Snahuek had Hanus spirited away when he was born.

What? No parent would willingly send their child away with someone else…and they need a successor.

Story concept development four:  Because the kingdom of Snahuek was vulnerable from protracted border wars with neighbouring countries that wanted their silver mines, the king and queen were desperate.

Nope. Still not convinced.

Story concept development five: The queen bore twins – a boy and a girl. They did not tell their people of the second child. They kept the princess with them, already starting talks with their most powerful neighbour to arrange an alliance through marriage. Their son, and true heir, they had spirited away, so the alliance would not be hindered and, one day, he could return and continue the royal line and save Snahuek from being absorbed by the neighbouring country because of the alliance.

Huh. That actually makes sense.

Now, you see how the backstory has been developed. It’s not fully developed but it’s a long shot from the initial idea. Depending on what kind of story you mean to tell, this backstory could be the piece of information that gives the main character the edge he needs to overcome the antagonist in the final face off.

Each aspect of the story will have to be developed like this. The story concept or theme, characters, setting, story line and conflict. Leave one of these un(der)developed and you have a story that most readers won’t finish.

Why is it so important to know where the story is going? It’s so you can foreshadow the resolution throughout the exposition. What on earth is foreshadowing? You know how, the first time you watch a movie, you just enjoy the ride…but, the second time, it’s like you’re seeing a whole new movie? You see the knife that was used in the murder lying on the kitchen counter. You see the murderer talking to someone in the background and then scowl at the victim as they walk away.  You notice small things that foretell the ending. That is foreshadowing.

Feel free to leave comments and questions!

 

A Geek of All Trades – podcast

As a writer just starting the journey to worldwide fame and celebrity (oh, see how my eyes glitter at the thought of receiving my first Nebula award…which, of course, will only happen once I actually write enough to get nominated for such things), it often feels like being doomed to the depths of endless obscurity. But, if an unsolicited request for a podcast comes along, it feels like the light just got switched on at the end of the obscurity tunnel.

While I was busy preparing for the Phoenix Fire launch at The Nexus, I was approached, much to my surprise, by Douw and Greg from Geek of All Trades for a podcast. It was a clear sign that word was spreading about the local writers and that we were, in fact, actually doing the thing – you know, writing and actually publishing the results.

So it happened that Ann-Elize de Ridder (author of Layers of Darkness) and I were sat down with our gracious and, oh, so punny hosts a few weeks before our launch at The Nexus. I’m afraid I was a bit less than eloquent on the day but, luckily, Ann-Elize was on fire and helped my floundering self through the challenges.

Have a listen to our wild race through space <<here>>.

Phoenix Fire – book launch

Phoenix Fire book launch

It’s been a few weeks since the Phoenix Fire book launch and I’ve had a chance to centre myself again. What a ride! I’m sure you could tell from the tone of my various posts leading up to the release of Phoenix Fire and the day of the book launch that I was dealing badly with stress. *laughs*

I’m happy to declare that the launch was a success. The decorations looked pretty. Fans and supporters attended. Copies of The Flight of the Phoenix and Phoenix Fire were sold and signed.

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I would like to thank Grant, Tex and Les for lending us the space at The Nexus. Their friendly staff and mesmerising milkshakes (at The Nexus Cafe AKA Catz Pyjamas) made our day so much easier than previous launches I’ve been a part of. You guys rock!!!

If you live in Gauteng (South Africa), I can still supply you with copies of both The Flight of the Phoenix and Phoenix Fire in person. Outside of Gauteng will incur courier fees. It appears that some of the Flight authors still had a few knocking around.

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Phoenix Fire on Release the Geek

I got a surprise email from  Les Allen at GeekXP, asking me whether I’d like to do a podcast for Phoenix Fire on Release the Geek. I’m sure that you can tell from this post’s title that my answer was “Yes, please!”

GeekXP-Avatar1.jpg

 

It was a truly novel experience to sit next to Vittorio (Phoenix Fire author) for this interview. I know him as the loudmouth joker whom everyone listens to at parties and gatherings. He’s charismatic and always the life of the party (right along with Les, our host). On this auspicious Sunday, he was quiet as a mouse, waiting for his turn to speak. It actually threw me off my game a little. Good thing Les is such a good talker. He smoothed over most of my confusion at having Vittorio so well behaved and nervously excited. (Heck, Vittorio’s been in movies! I have a DVD of District 9 with his signature on it.)

Shout out to my cat, Pantoffel, who clawed Vittorio during the interview. You’ll hear mention of the grumpy kitty in the podcast. Poor thing has a bad back.

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Have a listen to what Vittorio Leonardi and I had to say about Phoenix Fire on Release the Geek – the GeekXP podcast. Just click on the GeekXP button or <<here>>.